Nope, this isn't a silly email forward. This came from one of my SCA friends who is working as a contractor in Iraq. I'm offering myself as a point of contact. He'd like people to donate little toys, bars of soap, travel shampoos, post cards of places and things they've never seen, etc. to soldiers to give to children in Iraq. Our household has a meeting January 2nd when we'll pool everything together and work out shipping arrangements, but there's no cut off date for this project. Like Thad says below, this isn't about supoprting or not supporting the war, but it's about doing something good. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money and it doesn't have to be anything big and fancy. One caution I will give: try to remember the Islamic culture as you pick things out. Some dolls may be considered immodestly dressed (Barbie/Bratz). Also, Muslims are not allowed to eat pork. A cute little Beanie Baby pig may not be the best choice. The kids may not worry, but the parents probably will.
Also, below I've included Thad's mailing information if you want to send things directly. Please contact me if you have any questions and accept my apologies in advance if you think me sending this to you was inappropriate.
Ann Arbor, MI
Greetings from Iraq.
Sorry, no corny intro this time. I have a favor to ask. Ive been here in Iraq for the past six months working every day, and many nights, to support the soldiers. In return I have gotten to talk to them and hear their stories, and much of what they have to say sounds the same. They are frequently stories of broken homes, far off loved ones, and lost comrades. Most often, however, they talk of the every day things and the harsh living conditions they have to endure. It is not uncommon for the soldier in the field to go in excess of a week with out the option of bathing. They eat MREs three meals a day, and share one portable toilet with 40 people. Mail takes weeks to reach them, placing a phone call means waiting in line for an hour that could otherwise be spent getting precious rest, and the Internet is as good as nonexistent. But, by comparison, their lives are posh to those of the children in the villages they patrol.
They live in a savage, war-torn world. An existence marked by violence, poverty, and death. Plumbing is a chamber pot or a maybe a pipe that leads to the river. Electricity is a memory. Food comes in three forms: gathered, given by relief agencies, or the occasional spare MRE from a friendly soldier. Their families have been irrevocably shattered by this war and hardship, on a level I hope few of us may ever see or truly understand, is a way of life.
Specialist Hull told me about the kids in one of his villages. He gave two girls some beanie-babies his family had sent him, and he couldnt even describe how excited they were. They had never seen a stuffed animal, much less be given one buy an American Soldier! On his way back in a few days later, he was greeted by a mob of kids, all hoping to get a toy from the Americans. He and his comrades quickly ran short of knickknacks to give out. He resorted to handing out bars of soap and bottles of travel shampoo They were loved and appreciated all the same.
Some of the children even penned up their animals and hurried off the levy to bathe right then. With such poor sanitation, a bar of soap can mean the difference between sustained health and illness in a country where medicine and doctors are as scarce as potable water. Every day these soldiers, these friends of mine, your neighbors and relatives, are surrounded by this insurmountable poverty.
And theres nothing they can do.
Until this confusion settles down, no amount of well wishing, protesting, or Red Cross donating will be able to heal those wounds. We, Shadowclans, are too few people to change the country. But we can make a few days brighter for a few of these children.
I need your help in getting a box of toys together for the soldiers to hand out to the children. When youre out running around, stop at the dollar store, or hit a clearance at one of the Marts, and pick up a fist full of some neat things, or useful things and bring them to the gift exchange and melee this New Year. Peg will scoop them up and post them to me, and I'll get them to the troops to hand out. Ill cover all the shipping costs if its one box or a hundred, and the more the merrier.
They dont need to be here by Christmas, these arent Christmas gifts. This isnt winning the hearts and minds or supporting the war. This isnt about turning the other cheek, or building bridges. This is just doing something good for those who are less fortunate.
Thaddeus H. N. Williams
PS. If you're sending something regular mail:
If you want to send me a package, use FedEx:
AMC-LSE Bld. 4122
Balad, Iraq APO AE09391
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